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Hans van Manen - Simple Things

Nederlands Dans Theater / NDT2


Hans van Manen



Joop Caboort

set and costumes

Keso Dekker


Guy Klucevsek & Alan Bern (accordion), Scarlatti Fever (2000) / Joseph Haydn, piano trio Nr. 28 in E-major, Hoboken 15, Allegretto (1797) Peteris Vasks, Weiße Landschaft for piano (1980)


4 dancers


17 minutes


14 November 2001,

Lucent Danstheater

(Holland Dance Festival),

La Haye (NL)


links & downloads

> performance sheet (EN)

> dossier de diffusion (FR)

> context

> full video (password)

> photos high-res (password)

> photos low-res (password)

> technical rider (password)

Hans van Manen created this dynamic quartet in 2001 for the young dancers of NDT 2. It is a wondrous, seemingly natural creation for two pairs. The ballet opens and closes with a powerful duet for two men, where one watches while the other dances. In between they dance several pas-de-deux with two women, expressing in movement the relationships between two people. In this ballet Van Manen reveals himself as a master of simplicity.


“Hans van Manens Simple Things is pure dance art.” Leidsch Dagblad (NL)

"With Van Manen's clarity and musicality and the unbelievable lightness and power of the NDT 2's dancers, this story comes through strong and clear" de Volkskrant (NL)

"Hans van Manen is unparalleled in the perfect connection of music and dance" Telegraaf

"Simple Things is a musical and choreographic joy" NRC Handelsblad


"Hans van Manen's Simple Things, a series of duos for interchanging couples, has a more minimal approach. Pierre Pontvianne and Lukas Timulak give us a burst of testosterone-fuelled action in their laddish duel, every muscle slugging it out to the rollicking accordion piece, Scarlatti Fever. Then they switch to partner Parvaneh Scharafali and Cristina Gallofre Vargas in two intricate and contrasting duos, set to Haydn. One is contained, the couple closely interlocked in an elaborate piece of human architecture, the other expansive, exultant, all stretches and wonderfully mirrored gestures, the dancers' legs out-turned like nesting tables. The Guardian (UK)


Although the ballets by Hans van Manen (Amsterdam, 1932) seem simple by their abstraction, they are certainly not. The award-winning choreographer requires risk, vitality and swing. He owes his nickname "Mondriaan of Dance" to the optimal use of space and a clear introduction of the dancers on stage. His humor lifts the tone of his work and appeals to a large audience. Although Van Manen cannot read scores, he ‘reads’ compositions and ‘listens’ to dance like no other. 


Critics rave about the refined structure, the erotic tension and the stylish simplicity of his work, hailing him as a successor to Balanchine. In a career spanning more than 60 years, Hans van Manen has created over 120 ballets. Now in his eighties,  the Master Choreographer is still creating new works, winning awards and exporting his very Dutch brand of dance around the world.

In 1951 Van Manen started his career with Sonia Gaskell’s Ballet Recital. The year after, he joined the Nederlandse Opera Ballet, where he choreographed his first work Feestgericht (1957). Then he joined Roland Petit’s company in Paris. From 1960 to 1971 Van Manen was associated with NDT as a dancer (until 1963), choreographer and (from 1961) as artistic leader. In this period Van Manen blossomed as a choreographer. In 1973 he joined Het Nationale Ballet as a choreographer and producer, after two years of freelancing.

From 1988 to 2003 Hans van Manen returned to NDT as a resident choreographer. He remains  available to NDT for rehearsing and updating existing repertoire. His oeuvre now comprises more than 120 ballets (62 of which for NDT), each bearing his unmistakable signature.  His most recent creations for NDT are Short Cut (NDT 1, 1999), Two Gold Variations (NDT 1, 1999), Trilogie (NDT 1, 2000), Two Faces (NDT3, 2000), Simple Things (NDT2, 2001) and Monologue, Dialogue (NDT 1, 2003). Hans van Manen created Situation especially for the company in 1970. The ballet returns in the NDT 1 program Soir Historique (2019).

Van Manen has been awarded the most prestigious prizes in the international dance world, including the Benois de la Danse Lifetime Achievement Award and the prestigious Deutsche Tanzpreis. In 2017, at the occasion of a full Hans van Manen programme at the prestigious festival Montpellier Danse, he received the grade of  Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture.


Abroad, Van Manen has staged his ballets for the Stuttgart Ballett, Bayerisches Staatsballett München, Berliner Staatsoper, National Ballet of Canada, the English Royal Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, Zürich Ballett, San Francisco Ballet, Compañia Nacional de Danza, Paris Opera Ballet, Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Staatsoper Wien and Alvin Ailey’s company.

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